Country Music Hall of Fame honors Sun Studio founder Sam Phillip - WSMV News 4

Country Music Hall of Fame honors Sun Studio founder Sam Phillips

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The man who helped launch the careers of Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley is being honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Sam Phillips’ work is part of the reason Tennessee is known for its music. His Memphis-based Sun Records sought out performers with one-of-a-kind originality and turned them into big stars.

A new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame sings the praises of Sam Phillips.

His son, Jerry Phillips, remembers the moment that would change everything.

“I remember when he brought home That’s All Right Mama and he wanted us all to gather around,” Jerry Phillips said. “’I think I’ve really found finally what I’m searching for.’”

Presley recorded the song at Sun Studio. That history is now on display at the hall of fame.

Sam Phillips helped open the door for blues singers like King and Howlin’ Wolf.

“It was a phenomenon among the black community,” Jerry Phillips said. “There’s a white guy that will record you and not charge anything, man. He’s honest and you can trust him.”

Sam Phillips’ discoveries just kept on coming. He wasn’t looking for the perfect performer, but preferred perfectly imperfect.

“He didn’t want to do anything that was like anyone else had already done,” Jerry Phillips said.

The musical moments on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame are scrapbook memories for Jerry Phillips.

“Hey, there I am with Elvis and my brother,” he said.

At the hall of fame, his father is given all the credit.

“I don’t think you can talk about Tennessee music without talking Sam Phillips,” Jerry Phillips said.

The exhibit, Flyin’ Saucers, Rock and Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips, is on display through next June.

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